6 Ways to Sell Your Body to Science

How far are you willing to go for a little extra cash? Somewhere between virtual farming and playing guitar in your underwear in Times Square, are medical procedures that pay for your participation — and your bodily fluids.

Read on for our roundup of the top ways to boost your income by selling your body to science. After all, if you only need one kidney, what's the sense in having two?

1. Sell a Kidney

In the U.S. and most other countries, the exchange of money for organs is illegal. But that's not the case in Iran, where there's a thriving market for the buying and selling of kidneys. The price of a kidney there is about $4,000, or the equivalent of about $15,000 since Iran's per capita income is about a quarter of that in the U.S. And it's this cash incentive that has largely eliminated Iranians' waiting times to get a kidney.

Pretty soon you might not have to look so far to get cash for your kidney. There's lively debate here in the U.S. about introducing a $10,000-per-kidney exchange to incentivize organ donors. When you take a look at the statistics, you'll see why. More than 100,000 Americans are waiting for kidneys, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Nearly 5,500 of them die annually in wait of an organ transplant. Meanwhile, the number of kidney donors is steadily falling despite the growing need.

2. Catch the Flu

The federal government is offering $3,000 to anyone willing to catch the flu.

Yes, you read that right. The National Institutes of Health offers a flu-for-cash program as part of its mission to better understand the human influenza virus and hopefully come up with faster, more successful treatments. It might sound crazy, but if you're young and healthy, or at least healthy, it could make financial sense to spend nine days feeling achy in bed in exchange for a few thousand dollars. Oh, there's just one other catch: The flu kills thousands of Americans each year. Whether you contract the virus in a laboratory or on the subway, you'll still face that risk.

3. Carry Someone Else's Child

As a surrogate mother in a traditional surrogacy, women are artificially inseminated, either by the intended father or an anonymous donor, and carry the baby to term. It's a big responsibility and long commitment, but in exchange for participation in this nine-month process surrogates receive up to $40,000. Of course, not everyone is qualified to become a surrogate mother. Aside from the obvious (sorry, men), there is an extensive health and psychological screening process that must be passed with flying colors for a woman to be accepted by a surrogacy agency.

4. Donate Your Eggs or Sperm

For men, sperm donation is harmless and notably quick and simple to do (it's even how Joey on Friends made ends meet!). Each donation sample is worth about $100, but men can donate as often as two or three times a week, earning up to $1,200 a month.

But the egg donation process for women is much more invasive — and lucrative. It works like this: Approved egg donors are injected with fertility drugs on a daily basis for about two weeks until the ovaries are ready for egg retrieval, a process that involves lots of anesthesia and a syringe. Common side effects include moodiness, fluid retention, and abdominal pain. But the payoff can be big — up to $10,000 depending on the market and the desirability of your eggs. The typical payment, about $8,000, is largely viewed as well-earned by those who go through what is widely agreed to be a difficult process.

5. Donate Your Plasma

Plasma, a yellowish liquid that is a key component in human blood, is collected for a variety of reasons, including for use by pharmaceutical companies to treat blood clotting disorders and autoimmune diseases. The hour-long donation process includes a needle prick that facilitates the transfer of your blood into a machine that separates and collects the plasma before returning the remainder of the blood back into your veins. Donors are typically paid between $20 and $50 for a plasma donation, which can be repeated every 28 days. Call your local blood bank to learn more about their payment rates.

6. Sell Your Breast Milk

New mothers produce breast milk at different rates — and some not at all, which has given rise to a flourishing breast milk exchange facilitated by sites like Only The Breast. Other new mothers can cash in by pumping their breast milk and shipping it on ice to women who need it. On breast milk exchanges, milk tends to sell for $1.50 to $3.00 per ounce. To put that in perspective, a baby needs between 13 and 42 ounces of milk per day — at $3 an ounce, that's $39 to $126 a day.

Have you considered selling your body to science? What part?

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Guest's picture

Gosh I considered being a surrogate once but then got freaked out by potential health effects. No way I'd be willing to sell a kidney! (Though I do wish the US had opt-out organ donation rather than opt-in to help cull these kinds of shortages.)

Guest's picture
Constance Molate

I want to sell my whole body to medical sciences when I dìe , is it possible

Guest's picture

I have searched this topic forever , I am healthy and would love to go back to school etc . and have healthy kidneys every site says it is illegal so how do you go around that and make it happen ?